Thoughts From a Veteran Cop

March 9, 2022

After reading 12 Career Tips for Cops and the follow-up reader response article More Tips for Cops, From Cops, longtime Calibre Press supporter and friend, John J. Thomas, who retired from the Cleveland Police Department after 33 years of service, shared some additional thoughts with us to share with all of you.

Here’s what John wrote:

I am sending you and everyone at Calibre Press and all of my brothers and sisters in law enforcement across the country some training tips that I hope and pray will reduce risk and keep everyone a bit safer and save the lives of law enforcement officers young enough to be one of my kids or grandkids and old enough to be my partner.

I served with the Cleveland Police Department for 33 years. I served in Basic Patrol, was an FTO and an FTO instructor and have been an Academy Instructor since 1992.  I also served with Cleveland EMS for 3 years. After retiring I maintained my law enforcement teaching certificate and I am currently still teaching. I have coordinated 30 Street Survival Seminars in Cleveland, Ohio since 1992 with the help of my fellow CPD officers and Jim and Lisa Glennon of Calibre Press. I write this article in loving memory of all of my fallen comrades across the country and dedicate this article to them and their families. This is also dedicated to all the wounded warriors in our profession who carry emotional and physical scars with them every day yet continue to protect and serve and manage their own PTSD from what they see and experience every day on the job, from the youngest recruit to the veteran with decades on the job. I will not pretend to know or have all the answers. My only hope and prayer is that it will help to reduce risk in some way for all of law enforcement officers.

First and foremost, I believe that law enforcement across the country must adapt a team policing concept at the patrol level. In other words, act as a team on every assignment, listening for each other and responding together as a team, like a fugitive task force or a mini swat team.

Priority assignments, shots fired, domestic fights, gang activity, felony and misdemeanor warrant service; posse up and do it together, as policy, all the time. One sergeant and two basic patrol zone cars equals 5 officers responding together slow, steady and ready for just about anything.  Although in this scenario the responding units may respond from different areas in their district, they must give their response location and try to time it, so they arrive on the scene almost together. Simultaneous arrival better ensures they all see the same thing, react the same way, have details in their reports that are the same and their testimonies are consistent. Not too many loopholes.  We must train this way to adapt to the alarming war on cops. We must stop the carnage on our brother and sisters, and our kids.  This does not mean cowboy mentality. It means slow down, control impulses and always make it hard to hurt you. Train and operate as a unit. This tactic does one thing very well. It keeps us all safer, period.

Supervisors, please don’t just send your men and women out there to do a job. You must be standing next to them when they are doing the job and they will be standing next to you as they do what you asked them to do. We all must be responsible to and for each other 24/7/365 just as if you were in the armed forces on a mission.  Whether the assignment is in Ramadi, Iraq or Chicago, Illinois or Mayberry, North Carolina the mission statement is the same: Take care of one another all the time. Critics of this article will say we just don’t have the personnel to do this. Then do it with the personnel you have and do everything together.  Let us all ADAPT to this concept, IMPROVISE to our advantage and OVERCOME any obstacle against us.

Slowing down means controlling you. Controlling impulse means don’t rush in! Stop, look, listen and trust your instincts. Always make it hard to hurt you means just that. Do you have cover? Remember distance and cover buys you options. Cover stops rounds and on every assignment, remember the 7 Ps of police work: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Please plan on every assignment.  A few years ago, police trainer George T. Williams wrote an article for Police Marksmen magazine called Tactical Integrity.  This concept should be taught right alongside of Contact /Cover by Brian Albrecht.  I salute both of these instructors for both of these concepts that have saved countless LEO lives. I would highly recommend that tactical Integrity be taught in every academy across the country at all levels of training, every year during in-service training.

Lastly, I share with you a word that was used many years ago at a Street Survival seminar in the 80’s or 90’s and that word is BEST. Hulk Hogan the WWF wrestling champion used the word to emphasize to all the little hulkomaniacs how to better take care of themselves, emphasizing to all of his fan club to always do their BEST, and so it is with us.

B stands for Believe in yourself.

E stands for Eat your vitamins.

S stands for Say your prayers.

T stands for Train.

“We train to honor all those that made the supreme sacrifice for us.  We will never forget them or their families”.

God bless you all and stay safe.

Additional thoughts to share? E-mail us at: editor@calibrepress.com

 

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